Friday, November 22, 2019

Santa Fe's Sequoia

La Secoya de la Paseo
I work downtown Santa Fe these days and a new construction development just north of the federal court house caught my attention in that it will be named after a sequoia tree on the property - La Secoya at El Castillo. Well, I had no idea sequoia trees grew in this climate or at this altitude. I was doubtful and almost didn't believe the veracity of the story. Newly armed with where to look as well as direct empirical observation of this marvel of a tree I'd quickly become quite saddened that this woody unicorn was marked to be 'relocated' and quite likely badly damaged and ruined. A treasure so newly discovered, condemned to a dishonorable fate.

This monument of a tree stands as tall as a mature ponderosa, easily 60ft. Its canopy branches out in a broad and symmetric olive-green triangle, a jurrasic yuletide douglas fir. There's no such thing as uprooting and relocating something so massive - or so I thought. While reading more about this tree I see that the company employed for this relocation project is out of Texas. I'm thinking - they've contracted with an out-of-state vendor to move/kill a giant tree (?) - the cost behind this work can't possibly be justified in the business plan for a senior assisted living center, just doesn't add up.

There's more. This company out of Texas has moved larger trees - larger sequoia trees. Most recently a 110ft jewel in Boise, Idaho. The process is extravagantly expensive. I'm startled by the need to take on such a cost and equally impressed that a Board or management team has signed off on all of this. A moat is to be dug around the tree, then a steel bracing will be installed at this sub-surface level and the soil mass is then to be bound with burlap material and wire for transport. It's then lifted/floated on several inflatable pods and rolled to its new location, in this case 60ft to the edge of the lot, flush along the north boundary of Paseo de Peralta.

Over the course of this week I've watched as this process unwound just as the description above. My pessimism also worked and revised toward optimism. The day-to-day has been fascinating. In the long run we all die, however what we do while living will be the measure of our worth.

Related Posts:
 - Where to Hike During the Fire Closure (2018)

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Super Scary Camping Story - Halloween 2019

I gotta spooky camping story from this summer that fits well with the Halloween holiday this week, and it goes like thissss:

The boy and I were out roaming and hiking along the banks of the Rio before dusk - admiring the massive cottonwoods, complaining about the thickets of willows and tamarisk, marveling at the swooping bats (go bats!). Later we were trying to skip rocks when a large splashing sound in the water caught me unaware, visibly flinching at the sound. Surprised because I hadn't seen any campers in this area, no cars at the pull-in, i'd thought we were alone. Then another loud splash from somewhere around the bend of the river. Definitely not a fish or a bird, this was a very large rock splashing into the river and I didn't care for the unease of this unusual interruption.

We go back to camp, eat our sandwiches and chocolate treats, tell stories, settle into the tent and pore over our books. Kid soon falls asleep. I'm dozing off at some point and then *WHAPASH* the splashing once again. It's dark now and I haven't heard any voices, no music, there's no light in the canyon from a fire. Who in the hell is out there and are they here on our side of the river or the far bank? I don't like having neighbors when camping, in general people are not to be trusted. Thinking maybe I imagined the last splash I then hear it again more clearly this time. Who throws rocks into the river at night? Large rocks. We couldn't hardly find proper skipping rocks on the sandy bank during our walking adventure. Dawns on me just then that a simpler explanation could be a beaver - on the Rio though? Has to be, maybe the guy is setup on one of the side-stream meanders and is just out in the current knocking his tail about. By god I'm a John Muir backcountry genius!

Relief. Beavers are cool, yahoos out lurking in the dark of night are not. I'm lying at ground level in the tent staring into the darkness of our campsite to identify these imaginary rock hurlers and literally right as I solve this first upsetting night-sound there appears in my vision something more unsettling. A silent specter skitters through our campsite - I can barely make it out, it makes no sound - I'm imagining this, my eyes not quite adjusted to the dark after earlier damping my headlamp. No, there's something out there, a black shadow of a thing. Long upright neck, peculiar head, the size of a small dog but seems to move like a crab or scorpion. Just hold up now what in John Muir's madness am I  LOOKING AT!? I'm propped on one elbow, neck craning and eyes locked to the foreground just beyond the thin nylon mesh of the tent. Alien spider heartattack noiselessly flits back and forth outside the tent, my anxiety races toward panic, then it steps past a cloud-dimmed patch of moon light - the extended neck and odd head, it's a tail. Vaguely visible stripe runs along it. Not an alien river scorpion (holy hell that was confusing and frightening) however skunk is not an improvement on the less-than-great spectrum of possible campsite horrors.

I'm now certain this trip will end in magnificent misery. Skunk is sniffing our packs and food bag, it's going to chew through it all, destroy our gear, likely nose its way to the tent and spray us down before all is done. How through the many strange and rapid plot twists did we get to this ordinary but soon to be epic horror show? 

Skunk leaves the packs and wanders toward the tent, toward me. The animal was a comfortable 12-15 feet away, this distance now closed to 3ft. Like watching a fool casually play with a gun and no avenue for escape, unpleasantly unreal that it's going to go down like this. Skunk then silently trots to the kid's side of the tent, noses up close, inches from the sleeping six year-old who surely will wake in fright and trigger this DEFCON-1 shitstorm.

Then - this haunting menace, this ghostly apparition of unwelcome terror - turns uninterested, and vanishes abruptly into the brush and darkness of the surrounding forest.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Carpenter's Pikes Peak Record May Fall

Carpenter - in the switchbacks near the summit
It's Pikes Peak weekend - not that I'll be in Manitou Springs to run. Pikes is a crazy race and it is the trail running test piece in the central rockies. Steve Gachupin and Senovio Torres made names for themselves on that climb and held the age-group records for years until Matt Carpenter showed up and cleared the board. His top mark, un-threatened now for more than 25yrs, is 3hr 16.5min.

This weekend spaniard Kilian Jornet plans to be on the line for Sunday's marathon to challenge this storied mark and hoist his name to the top. Running friends in Colorado have been discussing this topic for weeks, a serious record attempt by a champion runner, this could go. Jornet is the toughest trail runner the world has seen though he generally specializes in grueling all-day distances and technical courses at high degrees of difficulty. Pikes Peak is relatively short and manicured in comparison (26mi w/ 7.6K of climbing and descent).

The biggest hurdle in a race this short will be familiarity with the trail and whether he can piece together the footing sequences on the ascent to match Carpenter's turn-around time. The top runners will wire these tight sections to memory then surge through during the race to break their chasers. It will be equally necessary for a serious run at the record. Seems very silly to cast doubt on Jornet but I just don't think he can match peak-Carpenter on the climb, I do think he can get it done somehow with a screaming descent, perhaps strong enough to nick 10-20sec from the standard. All very exciting for a niche event that has seen some of the best come and go and gotten nowhere close to Carpenter's mastery of this climb. Toughest trail record their is.

Related Posts:
 - The Tough Guy List
 - Pikes Ascent - Race Report

Friday, June 28, 2019

Early Morning Outings

North Moon Mtn - Picacho to the East
New running program coming along swell. Re-visiting many old trails and running routes is actually quite nostalgic. In many places there are tree branches and undergrowth that have crowded out sections of trail - I carefully prune parts of it back week-by-week as the miles build. It's all oddly like slow-piloting a time machine (emphasis on slow). A stop action animation film gradually reversing the aging process of both myself and my friendly trails.

The tendons in my toes and feet are often quite sore from the new work, my shoulders ache from the arm carriage. Quite a mess, but very nice to build back what was once lost. Into the sixth week now and have shed five-lbs (solid 18mos of Dad years), sayanora lethargy and inertia. I enjoy the little is active in the early morning but the birds.

Excited for what the summer may bring.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

A Return to the Trails

Winsor Trail with eastern sun and cloud
I've returned to running again. A busy work and family life shifted priorities elsewhere. Work obligations take over for months each Spring and we compounded the bottleneck this year with a second child that arrived in late March. One finds when they're away from activity that it's quite natural to settle into a state of entropy. Injury and time constraints create challenges but at the end of each day it's the inertia of doing nothing that slowly takes hold.

What is missed most deeply of course is the time spent being outside - that sights and sounds of daily adventure and exploration. I'm prodded along now with some urgency to get moving again because I've reached a hard and awkward inflection point. In my current middle-age and often workaholic state I am now void of fitness to the extent that my clothes strain at the seams, and this is something I just cannot allow. I hold this ace card - which perhaps has let me defer and delay for as long as I have - hundreds of hours of detailed knowledge that by simply lacing my shoes and passing through the front door frame I can rewind most of this entropy to a happy balance.

And interestingly I find that in my regained alone-time I think about many fascinating things that I frankly must write down (laughing).


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